Yann Elies leads back into UK waters
A second successive night with no real options to rest and the going is tough for the 36 skippers on the fourth and final stage of La Solitaire
du Figaro-Eric Bompard cachemire.
On an express ride across the English Channel after a bumpy passage around Ushant and the Portsall buoy on the tip of Brittany, the rapid speeds may be a welcome tonic after the painstaking progress of Leg 3, but it is tiring work.
In southeasterly winds of 20-22 knots early this morning speeds were up at 10.5-11.5 knots and so the Manacles mark was about five hours
ahead for the leaders at 0600hrs local time this morning. Corentin Douget (Un Maillot pour la Vie) was coming under increasing pressure from Yann Eliès (Groupe Queguiner-Leucemie Espoir) and Transat AG2R winner Paul Meilhat (SMA) who looked set to pass the long time leader.
The fast reach this morning comes after the difficult period in heavy rain showers, big overfalls and choppy seas through the western Sein and Ushant before easing sheets at the Portsall mark which leaders reached at around 0100 this morning.
Eliès took over the lead just before 0700hrs this morning with four skippers within 1.5 miles, Meilhat second, Douget second at 1.2 miles and Yoann Richomme third at 1.5 miles on Skipper Macif 2014. Race leader Jérémie Beyou (Maitre Coq) is eighth at +3 miles, in close contact with his nearest rival Corentin Horeau (Bretagne Credit Mutuel Performance) who has dropped from third to seventh.
The fast reach under spinnaker leaves few strategic options until the English coast. Dave Kenefick (Full Irish-Le Comptoir Irelandais) has
dropped away to 18th but is very much in the main pack, whilst Sam Goodchild (Team Plymouth) is up to tenth at +4 miles and polled as
fastest in the fleet at 13 knots on one sked.
Alan Roberts (Artemis 23) confirmed that he had been slowed for fully six hours just after Sunday’s start suffering a major failure of his
electronics as well as a problem with his ballast system. He explainde: “On the start and the little windward leeward my guillotine broke on my ballast system so I kind of had to figure out how to wedge the guillotine in. And then just after the Radio France buoy my electronics all kind of went funny. My NKE system and all the NMEA data started coming up with errors and so I had to disconnect everything and identify that a couple of the units were shorting out the circuit unfortunately including the BJ5 box which the GPS is run through which also meant I lost the AIS and the GPS. Then I managed to get the AIS up and working again, the GPS running through the AIS and in the middle of all this my computer died as well and so I had to re-set that as well.
"I had the boat steering on a bit of bungee, going slowly in the right direction but it took about six hours to get all of that done.”
Vincent Biarnès (Guyot Environment) - 6th at 5:00 rankings: “We are close reaching towards England there is winds between 22 and
27 knots and the boat is doing 11,12,13 and I have seen 14 knots. There are storm clouds around so the rain will come. It is hard going I
could only let go of the helm for a couple of minutes before finding the deck under water. We have to stay focused all the time. Ushant was
pretty sporty with a lot of current and we were upwind. Luckily it was dark but it was impressive. I had a couple of quick naps between
Ushant and Portsall. At 56 miles to England at 11 knots we should be there in five hours!”